Considered in his day the greatest composer active in Germany, Georg Philipp Telemann (Magdeburg, 1681 - Hamburg, 1767) nourished and accrued his popularity through an impressively bountiful output, spanning - like that of his colleague and friend George Friedrich Handel - all fields of 18th-century music, from sacred cantatas to oratories, from operas to concertos, from trio sonatas to orchestral suites.
Today, however, Telemann’s popularity is essentially related to his instrumental music.
Like every 18th-century composer of instrumental music, Georg Philipp Telemann also composed Trio sonatas, a genre that was most in vogue in the first half of the century. In Italy the Sonata a tre (this being its designation on Italian manuscripts) was usually for two violins and basso continuo, but Telemann often used, in his works of this genre, also wind instruments. As he himself wrote, ”How would it be possible to remember all I invented for string and wind instruments? I focused on writing trios and arranged it such that the second part appeared to be the first, and the bass voice carried a natural melody, close-knit with harmonies where each note has to be just so and cannot be any different...” Perhaps in this statement we can find a key to understanding much of Georg Philipp Telemann’s chamber music: to focus not so much on formal structures and their various denominations, but rather on the elegance with which each part is developed, especially the bass, the role of which, framed within the principles of harmony, was getting increasingly important. Indeed, Telemann’s great expertise in harmonizing the instruments in these works is one of the features that jumps to the ear.
Another important element was the German composer’s thorough knowledge of the instruments he composed for. Ever since his school years at Hildesheim, he had become familiar with a wide range of instruments. Telemann abides by the characteristics of each, indeed he highlights them by putting to good use their different tone-colours, dynamics and technical individualities.
It all goes to show how much attention the composer paid to this type of repertoire, destined to be performed by accomplished instrumentalists, as were those he himself formed in the various musical colleges that were founded on his initiative and that he directed.
We have here recorded only the Trio sonatas originally written for recorder, violin and basso continuo. The sonatas in C major TWV 42:C2, in D minor TWV 42:d7, in G minor TWV 42:g9 and F major TWV 42:F6, often thought to be for that ensemble, were actually composed for recorder, treble viola da gamba and continuo.